Open Rights Group

Open Rights Group
Formation2005, UK
TypeNon-profit organisation
PurposeLaw, Advocacy, Digital Rights
HeadquartersLondon, England
  • United Kingdom

The Open Rights Group (ORG) is a UK-based organisation that works to preserve digital rights and freedoms by campaigning on digital rights issues and by fostering a community of grassroots activists. It campaigns on numerous issues including mass surveillance, internet filtering and censorship, and intellectual property rights.


Open Rights Group poster

The organisation was started by Danny O'Brien, Cory Doctorow, Ian Brown, Rufus Pollock, James Cronin, Stefan Magdalinski, Louise Ferguson and Suw Charman after a panel discussion at Open Tech 2005. O'Brien created a pledge on PledgeBank, placed on 23 July 2005, with a deadline of 25 December 2005: "I will create a standing order of 5 pounds per month to support an organisation that will campaign for digital rights in the UK but only if 1,000 other people will too." The pledge reached 1000 people on 29 November 2005. The Open Rights Group was launched at a "sell-out" meeting in Soho, London.


The group has made submissions to the All Party Internet Group (APIG) inquiry into digital rights management and the Gowers Review of Intellectual Property.

The group was honoured in the 2008 Privacy International Big Brother Awards alongside No2ID, Liberty, Genewatch UK and others, as a recognition of their efforts to keep state and corporate mass surveillance at bay.

In 2010 the group worked with 38 Degrees to oppose the introduction of the Digital Economy Act, which was passed in April 2010.

The group opposes measures in the draft Online Safety Bill introduced in 2021, that it sees as infringing free speech rights and online anonymity.

The group campaigns against the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport's plan to switch to an opt-out model for cookies. The group spokesperson stated that "[t]he UK government propose to make online spying the default option" in response to the proposed switch.


  • To collaborate with other digital rights and related organisations.
  • To nurture a community of campaigning volunteers, from grassroots activists to technical and legal experts.
  • To preserve and extend traditional civil liberties in the digital world.
  • To provide a media clearinghouse, connecting journalists with experts and activists.
  • To raise awareness in the media of digital rights abuses.

Areas of interest

Cory Doctorow talks at ORGCon 2012 about the UK Government's Communications Data Bill 2012.

The organisation, though focused on the impact of digital technology on the liberty of UK citizens, operates with an apparently wide range of interests within that category. Its interests include:

Access to knowledge

Free speech and censorship

Government and democracy

Privacy, surveillance and censorship


ORG has a paid staff, whose members include:

  • Jim Killock (executive director)
  • Javier Ruiz Diaz (Campaigner)

Former staff include Suw Charman-Anderson and Becky Hogge, both executive directors, e-voting coordinator Jason Kitcat, campaigner Peter Bradwell, grassroots campaigner Katie Sutton and administrator Katerina Maniadaki. The group's patron is Neil Gaiman. As of October 2019 the group had over 3,000 paying supporters.

Advisory council and board of directors

In addition to staff members and volunteers, there is an advisory panel of over thirty members, and a board of directors, which oversees the group's work, staff, fundraising and policy. The current board members are:

  • Owen Blacker
  • James Cronin
  • Azmina Dhrodia
  • John Elliott
  • Tom de Grunwald
  • Hannah Little
  • Alec Muffett
  • Brian Parkinson
  • Simon Phipps
  • Christi Scarborough

In January 2015, the Open Rights Group announced the formation of a Scottish Advisory Council which will be handling matters relating to Scottish digital rights and campaigns. The Advisory Council is made up of:

From the existing UK Advisory Council:

And from the Open Rights Group Board:

  • Milena Popova
  • Owen Blacker
  • Simon Phipps

One of the first projects is to raise awareness and opposition to the Scottish Identity Database.


ORGCON was the first ever conference dedicated to digital rights in the UK, marketed as "a crash course in digital rights". It was held for the first time in 2010 at City University in London and included keynote talks from Cory Doctorow, politicians and similar pressure groups including Liberty, NO2ID and Big Brother Watch. ORGCON has since been held in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017, and 2019 where the keynote was given by Edward Snowden.

See also

This page was last updated at 2024-04-15 07:14 UTC. Update now. View original page.

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